Koheitsu is a very decent and reasonable Japanese for dinner in Causeway Bay. Prawn tempura, minced tuna and soft shell crab hand rolls, scallop, seared salmon and seared halibut (very good, fat and juicy, I wished I took a photo) sushi, beef shabu shabu, edamame beans and minced chicken meat balls, with complimentary tofu-flavored ice cream (ultra refreshing, must try!). The whole deal came up to $481 for two pax, a real steal! The place is rather small so can be packed and noisy, but for such quality and that price, it’s worth the hassle.
So much was said about the long queue at School Food that it deterred me from visiting in the past. But as we have an hour to spare before a movie, we chanced upon a much shorter queue than expected, so in we went for some fun, casual Korean cuisine.
The signature Mari combo was certainly interesting; of the three types of rice rolls served, the curry chicken Mari was certainly the most distinctive in terms of taste. The Mama-styled salad, on the hand, was a tad of a disappointment. To put it simply, it was a simple salad with pieces of crispy kimchi noodles added for that Korean twist. Not what I would call groundbreaking.
I had always liked to dine in front of an open kitchen. The upclose experience watching your meal being cooked by a crew of kitchen staffs so well trained, it’s like watching the food version of an amazing classical concert. Every one has a part to play, perfectly in rhythm, with verses and tunes seamless weaving in between each other, conducted by a conductor aka the head chef.
The head chef in question tonight was one Olivier Elzer, a kitchen extraordinaire with a credential so sparkling, it’s hard not to get your hopes up dining at his very own restaurant. The three-Michelin-star chef’s latest foray in Lee Garden, Causeway Bay packs much promises for those who love French food, or simply good food.
Despite the fact that I have been living in Happy Valley for two years now, which is just a few tram stops ride away to Causeway Bay, it’s embarrassing how little I know of the two neighbourhoods. I mean Happy Valley and Causeway Bay. I mean, I do do know them, but only of a few routine spots and regular places, and I am certainly far from being an expert. For really in-depth resources on Causeway Bay, you can (of course) try the Causeway Bay entry onWikipedia, or the new-ish hyperlocal site ILoveCWB.hk dedicated to Causeway Bay.
So when my friends come a-visiting to Hong Kong, more often than not they will ask me the big three questions:
1) Where to eat good food?
2) Where to get cheap and good hotel?
3) Any interesting place to shop?
I seem to spend half my life replying to those emails, so I thought once and for all I put my answers down into a blog post, for those of you whom are coming to Hong Kong and intend to stay within bustling Causeway Bay.
It was quite a late dinner for us right after a movie. I vaguely remembered a recommended Japanese restaurant by a colleague that was newly opened in Times Square. Zushi Ana was located right at the thirteenth floor of the building, where the cinemas were. The restaurant looked rather inviting so we stepped in for some late chows.
Glowing, warm light in a dark, posh environment always arouse my appetite. It is not something for everyone – most will complain about the inability to read the menu properly due to the the dim light – but I’ll say hey, that’s what candles are for! So I tilt my menu to the (electric) flame and read on, while all around a friendly, chatty atmosphere continue on through the night. Definite long time fans, I thought.
It has become a fixture in our agenda whenever my Singaporean friends are in town.
The famous Hong Kong under the bridge spicy crab has captured the imagination of many. With ten levels of fieriness it was easy to be overwhelmed and ordered way beyond your capacity to enjoy these awesome crabs, but the key is to always go moderate.
A stone throw away from the ever busy Ichiran Ramen store along Jaffe Road at Causeway Bay, I found a calm heaven of simple, affordable food. Like its namesake, Vietnam Choi boasts an extensive menu of all kind Vietnamese dishes executed in no fuss, no frill manner.
Which was exactly what I needed after dumping a small fortune on some new suits at a tailor nearby.
“Pho Tau Bay” in noodle soup was a mixture of beef balls, tender meat and intestine in a bowl of delicious, rich broth with some of the silkiest flat rice noodles I have ever tasted. There was a certain depth to the broth which I enjoyed, and the beef was a delight to go with some sliced bird eye chilli offered by the enthusiastic owner.
My first attempt to have a dinner at The Mon wasn’t a pleasant experience. Granted, we didn’t think ahead to book a table earlier. Walk-ins were told there was a two-hour wait for a table, which means we won’t get to be seated until at least 9 p.m. It wasn’t a palatable option, so my friend and I went to Hainan Shaoye instead.
Fast forward a year. This time round we booked ahead, within the same day, and was told that we will get two seats at the bar at 9 p.m. Granted, it was a Friday, but really, what is it about Japanese restaurants and its hordes of fans? Was The Mon really that popular that we had to wait until that ungodly hour just for a dinner?
We were about to find out.
Hong Kong people love queuing for food. And usually only food, unlike those hordes of mainlanders queuing outside Prada and Gucci along Canton Road, any day of the week. Hong Kong-ers know a good nosh so chances are when you see a queue outside a restaurant, either it is (1) just opened and the hype is still strong, or (2) the food is as good as it’s rumoured to be. Or both.
I, on the other hand, have long since given up queuing for food. The people, the humidity, the hunger, and the sheer silliness of standing for hours on ends for something to eat were just something I couldn’t stomach well.
So imagine my amusement when I saw this long queue outside Ichiran Ramen Hong Kong opened not too long ago, along Jaffe Road in Causeway Bay:
Apparently the waiting time is not for the faint hearted:
Had it not been for my colleagues, I would have never found the place.
Han Gook Kwan is one of those restaurant tucked away in a little back alley that few venture in. Only those in the knows would brave those steep slope, past some dodgy looking stalls looking for the popular Korean restaurant famous for its affordable lunch set and and hence packed with office crowd every day of the week.
With set lunches ranging from HK$68 – HK$98, these deals are hard to beat. Especially when you start off your meals with those little plates of Korean appetisers. You get eight different variety regardless of the size of your group.
There were two of us that afternoon.
I didn’t want to eat too much, but then again didn’t want my colleague to miss out. So I quickly recommended what seems to be the more popular dish of Han Gook Kwan – a bowl spicy, sour kimchi soup with seafood and beancurd. The broth is always appetising though the seafood portion was a tad too small, even for a lady. Perhaps more mussels, please?